June 2014 Issue  
 Publisher:  Information Station Specialists
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Want to Improve How Information Stations Sound?
You Have a Few Days Left to
Let FCC Know Your Thoughts
WASHINGTON, DC:  The Federal Communications Commission has extended the deadline until midnight on Monday, July 14, for you to comment on the current rulemaking proceeding regarding the sound quality of Information Radio Stations (TIS).

At issue is whether the audio bandwidth of the stations should be increased to 5 kHz from the existing 3 kHz – a compromise proposal put forth by the National Association of Broadcasters in response to AAIRO’s suggestion to remove audio filtering altogether.

The additional bandwidth is significant because, within the 3-to-5-kHz audio range, falls most spoken consonants – which are currently absent in TIS broadcasts, according to founding engineer Dick Burden. The lack of sibilance (“s” sounds) in TIS voice audio is responsible for intelligibility being reduced, especially in the in-vehicle environment that abounds in low frequency “rumble.”

Though Burden would prefer that Information Stations have the full range of audio regular broadcasters have, he tells The Source, “5 kHz is a big improvement when compared to 3 kHz; so why fight it.”

Before the July 14 deadline, you can upload a letter to the FCC. Enter "09-19" (as the proceeding number), your agency name (as the filer), your email and mailing addresses, select "Reply to Comments" (instead of the default "Comments") and, finally, browse to upload your letter.

Below are talking points from AAIRO to consider as you you create your comments:
  • Refer to the radio stations as “TIS Stations.”
  • Because the service might be used to broadcast critical public safety messages, intelligibility of received messages is critical. Increasing bandwidth from the present 3 kHz up to 5 kHz can greatly help increase the understandability of broadcasts.
  • The FCC should not mandate the change to 5 kHz, as this would add significant costs for existing operators who do not wish to make the upgrade. The decision to upgrade should be optional for licensees.
  • For operators who do opt to upgrade, the Commission should allow them to simply disable their existing 3-kHz filters and add an “in-line, stand-alone 5-kHz filter” in advance of the transmitter. This would make the switch-over simple, quick and inexpensive.
Fort Myers Beach, Florida
Beach Towns in the Crosshairs
Shoreline Communities Add, Replace & Upgrade Info Radio Stations in Preparation for "The Next Sandy"
HURRICANE TERRITORY, USA:  From Northern Maine to South Texas, dozens of communities are adding, upgrading or replacing Information Radio Stations in anticipation of hurricanes the 2014 season has in store.

Adding: Mantoloking, NJ, a barrier island borough down the Jersey shore, is on the air on AM 1670 to get ready for the next storm event. The island is linked to the mainland by a single bridge. Hurricane Sandy made landfall nearby in 2012, destroying almost 10% of the community’s housing. Mantoloking now operates a RadioSTAT Emergency Radio Station that is portable and may be moved out of harm’s way to offices on the mainland, if major damage or storm surge flooding is expected. The portability of the RadioSTAT system also allows sharing the system with other affected communities.

Replacing: Up the shore at Rumson, NJ, the Borough’s Information Radio Service was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. In 2013, Rumson’s Pete Koenig replaced the entire station and its roof-mounted antenna with a modern IP-based station that includes a robust in-ground antenna system. Rumson double covered themselves by procuring a backup/portable antenna system, ready to be deployed in the event the main antenna is lost again to storm surge.

Many New Jersey communities have referenced the success of neighboring Manasquan, NJ, who discovered their station was the only community information source accessible during Sandy. And like North Wildwood, NJ, many have included StreamCASTing, so residents sheltering in homes and those who have evacuated can receive the programming on portable devices and PC’s.

Upgrading: At Fort Myers Beach, FL, Scott Baker recently replaced the City's 1980s era service with an IP-based Information Station from ISS to increase the operating convenience, range and audio quality of the broadcast.

More than 40 shoreline communities on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts currently operate Information Radio Stations due to the potential need to address the public during storm-induced power outages and to inform motorists of imminent danger before and after disasters.
Unwelcome 1700 Approaching
New AM North of NYC Might Prompt Moves for Area Information Stations
Click below thumbnail to see full-size image.
Inner (white) Circle: Approximate Primary Coverage Area of New 1700 AM Station

Outer Circle: Area within Which Information Stations on AM 1700 May Receive Varying Degrees of Interference
STONY POINT TOWN, NY: How much would you give the FCC for the opportunity to put a new AM station on the air near (but not in) New York City? If you said $409,000, your guess would match what Alexander Broadcasting paid for that opportunity, recently. The bid will likely result in the issuance of a construction permit to Alexander for a new broadcast station – a station likely to cause consternation for some upper-band Information Station operators in New Jersey and Southern New York State when it goes on-air in the next few years.

A number of Information Radio Stations on the 1700 frequency are already considering moving to a new frequency in advance of the station’s sign-on. Information Station Specialists advises making the frequency change sooner rather than later, since frequency options are limited in the region. Some licensees who make the decision late in the game are likely to be left without an open channel to change to without a special waiver or accommodation.

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Monitoring the Monitor
This Is Media Reporting on Media Reporting on Media...
NEW JERSEY: Ever have the opportunity to listen closely to the radio dial in your area to see which agencies are operating Information Radio Stations?

Writer Mario Filippi, a resident of northern New Jersey, took on the task recently as part of his hobby of locating and documenting reception of local media – a hobby referred to as “DXing.” The result was this article published in the June edition of the international publication Monitoring Times. In the piece, he introduces Information Radio Stations to an audience largely unfamiliar with the technology, resulting in an interesting summary and history.

Filippi lives near New York City − one of the most congested radio markets in the United States, where dozens of Information Stations are operating on ten different AM frequencies. Lots of opportunities to “DX!”
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Information Radio Stations is a generic term synonymous with Travelers Information Stations (TIS), Highway Advisory Radio Stations (HAR) / Highway Information Systems & Low Power Radio Stations (LPR). Operation of the stations is governed by FCC Part 90.242 Rules. A FCC license is required. Information Radio Stations may be fixed or portable. Subcomponents may include transmitter, antenna and ground system, digital voice player, wattmeter, cabinet with conventional or Corbin locks, lightning arrestors for RF, power and telephone lines, coaxial cable. Most stations employ black maximized antennas to discourage ice accumulation and security measures to prevent unauthorized program access. Options include synchronization, battery backup, solar power, remote programming by local, network or telco, multi-station audio distribution via RF or LAN / WAN or wireless network.